“Ignorance and humiliation are not the way to dialogue,” “Nursing at risk, patients at risk, nurses at risk,” and “Can the healthcare system survive without us?” were the messages for the government written on the banners at Wednesday’s nursing workers’ protest. The Healthcare Trade Union pointed out that the government had accused them of undermining the wage system and even threatened them.
On Wednesday at 3 p.m., the long-anticipated healthcare workers’ protest started in front of the National Assembly. The protesters were greeted by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Urška Klakočar Zupančič. The motorcade then moved to the Government building.
Marjan Meglič, Secretary-General of the Healthcare Workers’ Union, explained why they gathered at the protest. Meglič highlighted the words of the Minister of Health, Danijel Bešič Loredan, that everything would be solved at the negotiating table. “At which table?” Meglič wondered, adding that they have been waiting in vain for months. “We are not judges and prosecutors, and we do not have a ‘happy ending’ in the infamous deal that brought down the salary system.” As the Secretary-General pointed out, they cannot believe these words. “We are here to show that we are united, and only together can we change the system. There can be no healthcare reform without nurses, and there will be no healthcare reform without nurses. We are here to make sure that everyone hears this.” He added that they do not want an ‘across the board’ pay rise but want to correct the disparities created by last year’s deal. “We will fight to the end for nurses’ pay. We will not be violent, but we will be loud and clear,” Meglič stressed.
Union President Slavica Mencingar gave a round of applause for all those present, as well as for all colleagues at their workplaces. They also sent their regards to all those who sit in government chambers and refuse to negotiate. As the President pointed out, the nurses have never before taken to protest on their own, and they promise to keep fighting until they are heard. “We nurses are only considered part of the healthcare service when we have to work all year round, not when we have to be rewarded,” she said, adding that the government negotiators had been harsh with the nurses and even accused them of being the ones who were dismantling the pay system. “The nursing staff are the only ones who got nothing.” The Minister of Public Administration, Sanja Ajanovič Hovnik, even threatened to take away all the 2021 bonuses and start from “zero”. “Outrageous!” As Mencingar explained, they were even punished by the government. They would even take away money from the lowest-paid nurses, who got a one-grade pay rise in 2021. “The government is misleading and manipulating data,” Mencingar pointed out, and she also asked the government if they even know what they are fighting for.